Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport
Assembly Members will wish to be aware that I am today giving the go-ahead to the establishment of a new body to oversee strategic workforce planning, workforce design and education commissioning for NHS Wales.
Education and training is fundamental to ensuring the healthcare workforce is fit for purpose, sustainable and has the right skills, knowledge and experience to meet the challenges we face now and in the future.
On April 14 2015, the Health Professionals Education Investment (HPEI) review, led by Mr Mel Evans OBE, was published. The review was commissioned to consider whether the current arrangements for investment in health professional education and training represented best value for Wales. The review made a wide range of recommendations, including the establishment of a new single body for Wales, bringing together the functions of strategic workforce planning, development and commissioning of health professional education and training.
While the recommendations were agreed, further work was commissioned to properly scope the new model before a final decision could be made about timescales for implementation. This additional work, undertaken by Professor Robin Williams CBE, FRS, has now been concluded.
I would like to thank Robin for taking this work forward and producing this helpful report which sets a clear steer for future arrangements. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Donna Mead OBE, Dr Alun Rees and Professor Ceri Phillips, for their roles in supporting Robin as expert advisors.
The report proposes a new “arm’s length body” with a board accountable to Welsh Ministers, working within an overall framework provided by the Welsh Government. It proposes members of the board be appointed for their expertise in specific areas such as understanding the changing health needs, workforce planning, educational design, quality assurance and equity. The proposed working title for this new body is Health Education Wales (HEW).
I have considered Professor Williams report carefully and I am confident this is the right approach for Wales and I intend to put arrangements in place to commence the detailed work required to deliver this change.
The removal of boundaries between medical and non medical planning, workforce design and commissioning will provide new opportunities for multi professional approaches. The focus on widening access, raising awareness about more than 300 different roles and opening up more flexible career pathways needs a co-ordinated national approach, supported with local initiatives.
There has been extensive engagement as part of the work undertaken to date. I want this to continue and that is why, in the coming weeks, I will be issuing a short consultation aimed at engaging with organisations and individuals about the way forward. I expect HEW to be operational from 1 April 2018.
Affected organisations will be written to today confirming the approach I expect to be taken to ensure appropriate communication, involvement and support throughout the transition and implementation phases of this change.